Ida Baker senior Jordan Diggs spent three years waiting his turn behind starting quarterback Sage Attwood. Now that his time has come, the only problem is filling the shoes of a signal caller who holds 35 school records and led the Bulldogs to 21 wins and three straight state playoff appearances.
That’s a lot to live up to in just one season.
But Baker coach Brian Conn isn’t asking Diggs to replicate any of Attwood’s numbers. The two are different players as evidenced by Diggs’ play during spring practice, his first bit of significant time as the Bulldogs’ signal caller, and 7-on-7 drills the last two weeks.
Diggs isn’t the proficient runner the Colgate-bound Attwood was. Now preparing for his freshman season at Colgate, Attwood led the team in rushing last season and amassed more than 2,000 yards and 31 touchdowns on the ground during his prep career.
The effect he had on a defense was quite palpable.
“Any time you have a dual threat quarterback it kind of puts defenses in binds having to account for the quarterback in the run game,” Conn said. “We’re going to still try and do some of the things with that read. Maybe it might be some run-pass option instead of run-read option with Jordan because he’s very good at making those decisions post snap.”
The merits of the run-pass option don’t quite translate at 7-on-7s with linebackers not respecting the run game. Nor should they. At South Fort Myers High Wednesday, Diggs made the most of the situation with strong efforts in five of the Bulldogs’ six games (Evangelical Christian twice, South Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Dunbar).
He opened each with touchdown passes and concluded the morning with three straight against Dunbar. The only matchup where he didn’t throw a touchdown came against a star-studded Naples defense.
The day didn’t come without struggles. Following first-possession scores against ECS and South, Diggs lost track of defenders in coverage and tossed interceptions on the next drives against both teams.
“Both of those were across the middle. They were just bad reads across the middle,” Diggs said. “I just have to know not to be late down the middle.”
Diggs appreciates the opportunity to face as many different formations and make as many different reads as he can during 7-on-7s before Baker’s opener Aug. 28 at Dunbar.
“I’m just staying relaxed, doing what I can,” Diggs said. “It’s a hard spot to fill.”
It’s a role senior Rasheed Golden, the team’s leading receiver last season, said Diggs is fitting right into. Attwood’s chemistry with Golden was quite obvious last season, but he and Diggs are at least clicking on one play in particular.
During goal-line situations, Diggs found Golden on a comeback routes three times for scores Wednesday.
“We’re pretty much on key already,” Golden said.
Baker’s strength last season, where it averaged nearly 34 points a game, was the pace at which its offense moved. In Conn’s mind, Diggs demonstrates the type of leadership needed to thrive in a no-huddle offense.
“I like the fact that we can get no-huddle. It’s less verbiage for our kids,” Conn said. “We try to get them into good plays by doing that. We don’t have to try and run every play against every defense. If we know what the defense is going to give us, let’s get us in a situation where we can best be successful.”
The question will be whether Diggs can adapt to the speed of the game this summer and everything that comes with being the center of attention when the lights are turned on this fall, Conn said.
Having waited three years for at least 10 games at the position he was groomed for, Diggs doesn’t play on wasting any time.
A number of Lee County and Collier County teams will compete in 7-on-7 games every Wednesday at Ida Baker and South Fort Myers. The News-Press will profile a local team every Thursday.